If you’re planning on spending your Sunday watching Super Bowl XLIX (or just the commercials!), you’re not alone. You’ll be joining the ranks of 184 million other Americans watching the nation’s biggest sports night on television.
It’s going to be a big night. Advertisers are spending $4.5 million for each 30-seconds of ad time, for a grand total of about $360 million for the night. And with the average Super Bowl home-watcher spending about $77.88 this year on food, drinks, decorations, technology, and clothing, it’s clear that our purchases are important—but are we spending our money on the right things?
The National Football League (NFL) doesn’t exactly have the best track record in terms of ethical responsibility. Last fall, we saw the NFL take center stage in debates on domestic violence among their players and the Washington, D.C. football team’s offensive name. And just recently, the NFL has been embroiled in another ethical dilemma (this time focusing on Super Bowl hopefuls the Patriots), with the rise of “Deflategate.”
But despite the NFL’s bungling of several important modern social issues, there are a few aspects of professional football that make it worth supporting anyway. The Super Bowl is best celebrated in community—it’s an entire day dedicated to American classic comfort foods, drinks, and good-natured city rivalry.
So rather than feeling guilty about enjoying the game, why not take action?
You don’t need weeks to plan an ethical Super Bowl shindig your friends will love. Here are a few tips for hosting a Super Bowl party of any size, with style and creativity—even with very little time to prepare:
Drinks: Snag Some Regional Favorites
Beer is a natural beverage for Super Bowl watching. Heck, it’s practically the national beverage of football.
Though Bud Light prides itself on being the “official beer sponsor of the NFL,” it’s not actually owned by an American company. The beer industry is seriously controlled by just a few major players—Anheuser-Busch (the makers of Bud) and SABMiller together own over 210 brands, which is over half the world’s beer market.
While that fact alone may not matter much, the Super Bowl is a great opportunity to support local brews—both with alcohol and without. Both Seattle and Massachusetts are hubs of fantastic micro-breweries, many of which ship nationally.
For the Patriots Fan:
It’s nearly impossible to discuss local Boston beers without mentioning Boston Beer Company, which owns the iconic brand Sam Adams. In Groundswell’s Ethical Guide to Beer, we discuss just what makes Sam Adams a decent brew:
The Boston Beer Company, the medium-sized beer company that owns Sam Adams, [scores high] ethically. CEO Jim Koch (no relation to the notorious Koch Brothers) has received overwhelmingly positive reviews by The Atlantic, Bankrate.com and Glassdoor.com for providing a great work environment and benefits (yes, including free beer).
If you’re a fan of responsible companies treating their workers well, consider treating your party guests to some Sam Adams—their Winter Lager is a festive choice for a February Sunday.
To go even smaller, pick up a case of Spencer Trappist ale. Massachusetts is home to the only Trappist brewery in the country—meaning that monks make the beer, in traditional Belgian style. Best of all, the monks of Saint Joseph’s Abbey boast ethical brewing technology, including storm water reclamation processes, sustainable timber harvesting, and responsible animal husbandry.
For the Seahawks Fan:
Tragic news for Seahawks fans—the Seattle craft beer Elysian was just bought out by AB-InBev (Anheuser-Busch), so it doesn’t quite pass the buck for “city brew.”
Instead, try Seattle-based beer Red Hook, which is owned by Pacific-Northwest company Craft Brewers Alliance. Though the company has remained small, its sustainability record is impressive. And with one brewery located in New Hampshire, this beer has a surprisingly small carbon footprint for East Coast drinkers, too.
If Seahawks-colored Starbucks Frappucinos aren’t your thing, never fear.
Consider serving your guests local sodas from each coast. Try Seattle-made Jones Soda, or New England’s famous birch beer (like Massachusetts-owned AJStephans). And of course, there’s always the classic debate of Seattle’s best coffee versus Boston’s tea party.
Food: Think Affordable, Delicious, and Sustainable
Yeah, the party’s really all about the food. And what better way to celebrate than with tasty snacks you can feel good about eating?
These recipes are friendly for meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike—and can be easily doubled (or tripled) depending on the size of your party.
Click on the name of each recipe to find the full list of ingredients/steps to make!
For your appetizers:
For your main course:
Mmmm… is it 6:30PM on Sunday yet?
Chi Pham is the Program Associate for Groundswell’s Energy Program. A San Diego native, Chi attended Washington University in St Louis and graduated with a Bachelors in Environmental Policy and Public Health. She’s a foodie, environmentalist, and social justice advocate who firmly believes in procrasti-baking, Netflix marathons, and long hikes. Follow her on her website and on Instagram: @chipdip1. Kelsey Ryan is the editor of Groundswell’s magazine. She’s a linguist, fledgling Tolkien scholar, knitter, Oxford comma proponent, and firm believer in the use of stories for social good. Explore her website, or connect on Twitter: @kryanlion.